Is Threads Worth Trying? A Guide for Nonprofits

If you’ve been following along with social media updates over the summer, you’ve likely heard the news: Threads has stepped into the ring.  (Figuratively of course, but also literally, since Twitter’s owner, Elon Musk, challenged Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, to a “cage match.” But we digress.) 

Threads, the new microblogging app, dreamed up by Meta as an alternative to the all-powerful Twitter (now called X), is here to shake things up in the social media world—in a good way. 

With a stated goal by the developers of creating a more “open and friendly” text-based social media app,  people responded with astounding enthusiasm. 

Within seven hours of its introduction to the market, Threads passed 10 million users. Within five days, they hit the 100 million user milestone,  a number that took TikTok nine months and Instagram two and a half years to reach.  Threads smashed records, becoming the fastest-downloaded app in history.

Although engagement dropped after the initial rollout, Threads still has what it takes  “to kneecap X,” especially with the introduction of their recent web version. (Forbes says that the most engaged social media participants interact from their laptops.)  And with the recent swirl of political drama, it looks like discussion and engagement on Threads might be on the rise again. 

But let’s cut to the chase. Is Threads worth trying? Is it really that different from Twitter? Should nonprofits consider diverting valuable time and energy to expand onto yet another social media app?

We say you might want to give it a shot. 

At the very least, this one has great potential.  And here’s why. 

  1. It’s linked to Instagram

Threads is unique in that it’s built off an already existing app– Instagram. That makes switching your follower base to Threads incredibly seamless. Setting up an account only takes minutes, and with the click of a button, you can connect to all of your Instagram followers, with no need to build a platform back from zero. Threads’ ability to interface with Instagram and share content on both platforms is also a huge plus. 

Key takeaway for nonprofits: You don’t need to build your platform from scratch.

  1. It promotes storytelling.

Here at Swell + Good, we built our business around our belief in the power of storytelling. Good stories are crucial to getting people on board with your mission, and with a much higher character limit and the ability to use clearly organized threads to display longer narratives, Threads prioritizes effective storytelling over short, punchy tweets. Nuance and context can be more readily captured, and with better picture and video-sharing options, the storytelling experience is more immersive and appealing than what’s available on Twitter. 

Key takeaway for nonprofits: Stories are essential for your marketing– and Threads is a better place to tell them. 

  1. It fosters a genuine connection with your audience

The hope for Threads is that with a better format for replies and discussions, accounts and their followers will be able to connect more directly and with more depth; and for nonprofits, and really any brand, this is huge. Some companies have already done a great job with this, and their casual, quippy Threads presence is drawing in real engagement from consumers and enhancing personal connection to the brand. (For a few examples of for-profit brands embracing this new tone, check out Anthropologie, Wendy’s, and Chipotle.) 

Key takeaway for nonprofits: Threads helps you connect personally with your supporters.

Ok, great. You’re convinced. You’ll give it a try. But what exactly would your content look like? Where can you find inspiration for this new venture? Luckily, there are nonprofits who have gone ahead of you, paving the way for a new type of communication and connection with supporters. Here are seven of them: 

Unicef has been posing questions to their followers such as “How many months paid maternity leave do you get in your country?” and “What healthy food does your little one like to eat?”, inviting hundreds of replies from people across the world– and creating a community in the comments. 

No Kid Hungry has embraced a more relatable tone and has seized the opportunity to bring people together—including their fellow nonprofits. “If we thread together with @feedingamerica and @mealsonwheels, can we make a quilting club to end hunger” they posted shortly after creating their account. 

charity: water has done a great job of using the connected threads feature, as well as the more visually appealing slide-through photo gallery that Twitter doesn’t have, for more in-depth and compelling storytelling.   

TED Talks is an excellent example of a nonprofit creating meaningful discussion. They have been posting a question for followers to answer with each video, such as “If you could go back in the timeline of your life, where and when would you choose to go?” and they actually respond to the answers in the comments. 

StoryCorps is leading the way on supporter engagement, and even reposted and commented on a reply they received to one of their stories. Then the user replied to that post– creating a genuine interchange between the organization and a valued consumer. 

Teach for America has opted for an off-hand and witty tone, posting short, relatable tidbits like “missing the adrenaline rush of seeing a teacher somewhere that isn’t school.”

Save the Children is acing the Threads game with great storytelling and informational posts combined with a dynamic tone and trending memes, creating a much more pleasurable experience than most of what you see on Twitter. 

So here’s hoping that Threads really does usher in a new era of kindness on the internet, boosts community and engagement, and becomes another, better place for you to share your organization’s story– and connect with those who make it all possible. 

Threads Are Here

For a creative agency that spends lots of time thinking about social media (hey, that’s us!), today has already been a BIG day. As Twitter sputters out (and yet, still lives?), the all-powerful Meta saw an opportunity—and, last night, launched Threads, Instagram’s text-based updates platform. Within 7 hours, they passed 10 million users. 

So, yeah. This is big. 

We are all about early adoption and experimentation, so we jumped right on to experience the excitement. Here’s what we’re loving about Threads so far…

  1. It’s all about the text. We love a well-designed graphic or beautiful photo as much as the next person (helloooo, Instagram addiction). And you know we can waste hours watching memes and videos (TikTok sucks you in for a reason). But sometimes, you just want to say something—and words are the way to do it. In real life, we use words to connect, converse, debate, and engage. We’re excited to have a new place to do the same digitally. 
  2. You don’t need special skills (or tons of time). Since it’s all about the words, anyone can participate. You don’t need to tap in your designer or photographer. You don’t need to create a sweet flat lay or figure out how to animate static text into a Reel. You can just write what you want to say. And that’s exactly what people are doing. It feels a little bit unhinged right now (in the absolute best way—like kids on the playground without any rules), and people and brands alike are just going for it—with a level of kindness and civility that has long been absent on Twitter. 
  3. It’s connected to tools we already use. Threads is created by Instagram, so your existing username carries over to your Threads account. When your Instagram followers set up their own Threads accounts, they’ll be prompted to follow you there, too. Built in audience, check. 
  4. It’s designed for conversation. Social media at its best is a place where we can, ya know, be social. Yet much of my own social media behavior has become incredibly consumer-driven (I watch, read, absorb creators’ content—but the conversation is often lost). I’m hoping that Threads will create new opportunities for engagement, especially for nonprofits like yours! 
  5. It’s a cool new place to share your story. Some social media platforms are sizzles in the pan—becoming the hottest thing for a week or two before cooling off and eventually falling into oblivion (remember Clubhouse? I’m pretty sure it still exists…). Other platforms reshape our daily lives (looking at you, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube…). We don’t know what Threads will be, but we do know that it has BIG power behind it—and we know that regardless, the best time to take advantage of a new platform is when everyone is talking about it. So why not jump on Threads today and see what it’s all about? You already have words about what you do. You’ll take advantage of a super curious and excited audience. You’ll show your followers that you are tech savvy and on top of trends. And if your organization has an Instagram, you should be able to carry over your info and jump right in! 

Our invitation for you today is simple: Join the S+G team on Threads! We can’t wait to have a conversation with you! 

If you need help getting started on Threads—or on any social media platform—get in touch! We’d love to help you build a strategy, then execute on it with excellence, creativity, and fun. 

You need to do a content audit

You need to do a content audit

One of the first projects our Chief Strategist, Ian, completed as a young marketer was a how-to guide for MySpace. It was a PowerPoint. And he printed it to show his team. (I think this is where the kids say something like, “Ok, boomer.”) 

The simple reality is that we’ve been at this digital marketing game for a long time. 

And over the last 15 years, we’ve created a LOT of content. 

Blogs, infographics, social media, web pages, articles, thought leadership…if you’re anything like us, you’re sitting on a treasure trove of great material that you have already created. 

Yet our impulse is still to create something new. To come up with the next great idea. To start over. And start over. And start over again. 


Why do more work when you can, instead, do more efficient work? And why reinvent the wheel when you have a perfect circle within arm’s reach?

The reality is that most of your audience doesn’t remember your content. 

Sad, but true. 

And if your audience is growing (we’d love to help you do this, btw), then the new people on your email list weren’t around to receive that awesome message three years ago. They didn’t see it at all.

At every conference we’ve ever been to, the “experts” tell us one thing, over and over: Create engaging content. We always laugh at that because, duh, but also, they’re right. Good content is marketing magic—it’s why we built a storytelling agency. But we’d like to add to their advice: Create engaging content. And keep using the content you’ve created.

If you’re looking for easy, accessible content to share, chances are you already have it.

So how do you make use of the amazingness at your fingertips?

You need to do a content audit.

Spend time evaluating the material you already have, and start answering these questions:

  1. What is still working for you? These are the pages that are still getting lots of traffic and the pieces that are still getting used, so make sure the data and stories presented are accurate! Also, make sure these pages and pieces have logical next steps—where does a donor or prospect go after reading it? 
  2. What ISN’T working? In the wise words of Marie Kondo, if a piece of content isn’t bringing you joy anymore, it might be time to let it go. Or rewrite it. Or start over. 
  3. What could be working better? This is our favorite question! What are the stories in your arsenal that are interesting but unread? What blogs still work, especially if you were to spend five minutes updating them? What long-form articles could be parsed into a full month of social content? What can you re-share, re-post, or re-work? 

As you approach that last question, here are a few easy ways to get started: 

  1. Throwback Thursday. Post an old story in its entirety—no extra work required! 
  2. Repost your long-form. With well-researched long-form content, take the time to edit and update the information presented. Then repost the blog or article with an “updated” date—voila: new content. The SEO crawlers will love you. 
  3. Parse a blog into social. A full blog might not be super relevant anymore, but chances are high that you could find one or two sound bites that might be great social posts! As we always tell young writers, plagiarize yourself! If you’ve done the work, you can reuse it across channels! 
  4. Milk a piece for all its worth. Did you write a great impact report? Awesome. Now post it online. Pull five social posts out of the content. Turn it into a listicle. Independently share the infographics. Work smarter, not harder. You have so much existing content available to you! 

You can breathe life into old content—and Swell+Good is here to help. We conduct content audits for many of our clients, helping them identify what’s working, what’s not, and what could be. Then we help them turn the materials they have into a robust content calendar that is bursting with powerful stories. 

Want to learn more? Shoot us an email, we would love to talk to you!

Humanize Your Nonprofit’s Social Media

Humanize Your Nonprofit’s Social Media

There’s a reason you listen to podcasts your friends recommend. There’s a reason that you ask to “speak to a representative” when you get an automated voicemail. There’s a reason your boss asks for references and your politicians run door-to-door campaigns:

People trust information when it comes from people. 

It may seem obvious—nobody likes propaganda, impersonal video ads, or yelling monosyllabic commands at an answering machine. But nonprofit marketers underestimate the power of human voices for human messages, especially when it comes to their nonprofit’s social media strategy.

With the rise of the influencer economy, the ethical tilt to product marketing, and relationship-focused branding, it’s clear that the social media milieu is moving towards maximized personalization. Have you noticed how car commercials now sell family vacations instead of extra cup holders? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sells to talk to customers like the people they are.

For a nonprofit organization, telling stories with honesty, personality, and humanity is critical in every step of your communication strategy. Here are the best ways to craft humanized social copy made by real people (you!) and for real people (your community!).

1. Match your marketing to your message

With so much going on in the day-to-day of a typical nonprofit, social media strategy can often fall to the wayside. Without a concerted effort, it’s easy for nonprofits to make their own (incredible, powerful, transformative) impact sound lifeless in a post. So what needs to change? What makes written words sound human?

  • Write with emotion. How does your cause make you feel? Frustrated? Inspired? Overwhelmed? Hopeful? All of the above? Add a dose of that to your copy. Meet your reader in the world of emotion and channel the feelings they experience when learning about your work.
  • Write to your audience. People speak differently to their boss than they do to their best friends—so know who you’re speaking to.  What vocabulary is unique to them? What tones do they respond to?
  • Write with kindness toward imperfection. Sometimes we forget to donate. Sometimes we are uninformed about issues. Sometimes we recycle incorrectly. Make sure your reader knows you aren’t perfect, either; they’ll appreciate your kindness and feel open to your call to action.

Looking for an example? Girls Computing League does a great job bringing their unique voice to their Instagram. Working to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields, they provide scholarships to girls in STEM and invest resources for girls in low-income schools.

Their account vibrates with life by speaking directly to girl coders and the people who support them. Posts include TikToks using popular sounds to talk about being underestimated by men in their field, posts on STEM women in history, or educational posts on writing a professional email. Their excitement about women in STEM industries is palpable in the voice of frustration, sass, and encouragement in each post.

2. Promote messages that vibe with your values

Want people to recognize your name? Start with helping them recognize your values. 

Whether you care about climate justice, ending world hunger, or arts programs in schools,  the good news is you are not the only one who cares. Reels, stories, and infographics are great tools for cross-promotion with the people, organizations, and brands fighting the same fight.

Repost your amazing donors’ content. The Karam Foundation reposted a story from a donor who supported them with a marathon fundraiser.  St. Jude pinned a video on their TikTok celebrating accounts that link to their fundraising page in their bio. Appreciating current donors? Check. Demonstrating support to new donors? Double-check.

Link to organizations doing similar work. Urban Indigenous Collective cares about supporting Indigenous people, so this post with links to the American Indian College Fund was a great way to demonstrate their values. It establishes their account as a place for UIC content, but also as a bulletin board for organizations supporting Indigenous people.

Promote your partners. Are local businesses helping you with an upcoming event? Do companies donate to your cause with the purchase of select items? Girls Inc. benefits from purchases made at Macy’s and Thinx and celebrates these partnerships with posts like this

3. Show us what success looks like

Repeat donors feel connected to the story of your impact—and they want to continue being a part of it. Compared to emails and newsletters, social media tends to be more visual and interactive—so it’s a great place to make your impact more visual and interactive, too!

Mercy Corps posted about a Ukrainian refugee family’s journey and the medical supplies, food, cash, and support they were able to give them. Notably, this post doesn’t use pity to tell their story in an undignified way but instead shows the family’s journey and the agency they display as they plan their next steps. Kudos to you, Mercy Corps.

Organizations like Hand on Heart WWP, which serves people experiencing homelessness, also do a great job of showing their impact. It’s not respectful to take pictures of vulnerable unhoused people, so Hand on Heart posts photos of large piles of sleeping bag donations and care packages instead. Other houseless aid groups often lean on pretty infographics of their impact stats, but they can feel hollow, making donations feel less tangible. Hand on Heart owes its social media success to videos like this that put donors in the room with the amazing resources they purchase.

4. Tell us what happens behind the scenes

We love the design and polish you put into your infographics, your videos, and your curated color scheme. But sometimes, your produced facade hides your real story. For donors who want to know that your nonprofit is legit, trustworthy, and effective, try these posts to help pull back the curtain. 

  • Give us a tour of your facility. Show off your youth center, your animal shelter, your school, or your office! Even if it’s messy or busy or chaotic, donors want to see where the magic happens. The Cattery cat shelter has a beautiful TikTok tour of their facility that shows off all the ways they provide for their furry friends.
  • Introduce your team. Whether through a video interview, a post, a story, or a TikTok, donors want to know your volunteer coordinators, your accountants, and your CEO. You can talk about why they are special to your operations (“Diana is the master of managing receipts”) or what they do on the side (“Diana’s two dogs, Lucky and Frankie, have been with her for ten years. It’s no coincidence she is so passionate about animal rights.”) If you have confidence in your team’s work, donors will too. This ”meet our team” post from Site Design Group does a great job of introducing their staff. 
  • Introduce your board members. If your website’s board member bios feel a little tired, try this approach. Post about your board members in action: photos of them with the family they mention in their bio, working with your volunteer team, or answering fun questions relevant to your mission. Massachusetts Avenue Project has creative “Meet the Board” posts on their Facebook page
  • Product tour. If your nonprofit donates products like hygiene care packages or boxes of books, show donors what they look like! Tell us about your materials, your delivery style, and what makes your products valuable and unique. Days for Girls, a menstrual health NGO, uses the highlight feature on Instagram to explain the features of the DFG pad and what comes in their full kit.
  • Day in the life. TikTok “day-in-the-life” videos are really popular right now—and they can be great for a nonprofit to show off how you spend your time and where donations go. What does a day in the life look like for a community organizer? A youth leadership camp counselor? An animal shelter staff worker? What would surprise people about the work you do all day? Community Action Partnership has a great day-in-the-life TikTok showcasing how their Health Coordinators support their community. Check out a few nonprofits we love following on TikTok.
  • Sneak peeks as you prep for events. If you want to boost excitement for an upcoming event, “sneak peek” posts are a great way to drum up anticipation. If you’ve got an auction at your gala, show off the prizes people can bid on. If you have a tree planting event for Earth Day, show off the saplings that need a new home! Give donors the inside scoop about how your event space is looking, how excited your staff is, and all the fun bonuses they can look forward to. United Way of Greater Baytown Area made a Facebook post leading up to their Volunteer Appreciation Awards to get people excited.

It’s not hard to be human, but it does take intentionality. 

Humanizing your nonprofit’s social media doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take effort. Luckily, it’s worth it—both to build community and foster ongoing support. Speaking to current and prospective donors like real people will make it easier to create and foster long-term relationships, connect with your supporters, and spark even more impact for your mission! Win win win. 

Pillar page content and 4 other things you need to read this week

Pillar page content and 4 other things you need to read this week

1. The important difference between personal content 👍 and personalized content.

Spoiler: one is more effective than the other. Personalized content is content unique to the user. Personal content is content that uses info about their user to address a need and create an experience. Your name on an email is personalized. A restaurant preparing your favorite cake for your birthday meal is personal. Can you guess which content keeps your donors coming back for more? 

Personal content experiences matter more than personalized content. [via Content Marketing Institute]

2. Choose the best pillar page content. 📈

Pillar pages are huge drivers of web traffic. Full of long-form content that uses links to guide users to more info about a topic, pillar pages help you up your impact by grouping topics to attract Google searches. Want to create pillar pages that bring the clicks? Become the master of your web topic and drive users to your page with this easy guide on pillar page strategy.

How to choose pillar page topics. [via MOZ]

3. Get noticed on Google Discover—the tool other sites are overlooking. 👀

Try Google searching something on your phone—do you see a list labeled “Interesting Finds” at the bottom? Those personalized articles you didn’t search for? Those are your Google Discover results, tailored to your online habits and search trends. Think of it like Google’s version of Facebook’s feed. Not a bad place for your website to be featured—and now you can learn how to get there.

Find out how to make your mark in Google Discover. [via MOZ]

4. The 11 principles of design 🎨 everyone can learn.

It doesn’t take a designer to look at a digital product and notice something’s a bit off. When the text is too large, the colors are too loud, or the page is too crowded, your user will notice—even if they’re not designers either. The good news is that you can use easy principles of design to guide you as you create something new. (Yes, even if you aren’t a designer.)

Get the 11 principles of design (and learn how to use them). [via dribble]

5. Instagram is retiring the 📱 swipe up. 

Listen up, nonprofits: Your Insta stories are about to get a makeover! Instagram announced recently that it will be launching a new feature to replace the swipe-up method of navigating to external sites. Get ready for link stickers—and keep using social media to drive traffic back to your website. 

Instagram is retiring the swipe up. [via The Verge]